These are my true feelings, and this post is not meant to offend anyone but to share my point of view.
Let me start off by saying how much I love to watch the sport. I think it's extremely entertaining, and fun for fans to watch. Its popularity has grown so quickly. I've had strangers see my cauliflower ear and ask if I was a fighter, not knowing that cauliflower ear is a wrestling thing. A number of wrestlers that I have competed against and trained with are now very successful fighters. I couldn't be more proud of them, but fighting isn't for everyone.
I think there is a misconception that if you are an elite wrestler, that you should automatically plan to transition to MMA. MMA isn't the natural progression of wrestling. In the last five years, a countless number of wrestlers have taken the leap from wrestling into the cage, but I think we can agree that it wasn't because fighting was so much better than wrestling. There isn't a lot of money in wrestling. We are far from NFL and NBA contracts, as well as UFC Pay-Per-View Mega Fights. If you're a top guy in the MMA world, you are making quite a bit of money. There is a huge fan base, a number of sponsors, and you're known as one of the baddest dudes on the planets. The life right? Maybe to some people. The UFC has its stars. GSP. Bones Jones. I would be lost in the shuffle. Wrestling needs me. I need wrestling.
With all due respect. Each fighter has a respective discipline. Whether it be wresting, jiu-jistsu, boxing, etc. I think we all can agree that no one in the UFC is the best in the world at his or her respective discipline. Of all the fighters in every organization, there are no Olympic Gold medalists competing. Why would there be? If you were the the best in the world at your respective discipline would you leave to pursue a completely different sport? Probably not. I could be completely wrong, but from my observation most people get into MMA for the financial opportunities. Their respective sport may have grown stale and the paychecks weren't exactly rolling in. They were relatively unknown and they wanted to use their athletic ability to give them a taste of the good life. Sound familiar? Who wouldn't want millions of fans and millions of dollars? Perspectives can change quickly, however. I have a wife. I'm healthy. I am great at what I do. I am fortunate enough to pursue what I love everyday. I always promised myself I would never do anything purely for money, so when it comes to persuading me to change my mind strictly for a large contract offer... Forget about it.
I am a wrestler at heart, always have been and always will be. I began wrestling when I was five years old. I am 25. I have put 20 years into perfecting my craft. Wrestling is my passion. Why would I leave my domain to step into someone else's? MMA guys are more than welcome to strap on a pair of wrestling shoes and compete in the US Open, or next year's World Team Trials. I've had my ups and downs. Injuries. Losses. Wins. Times I've I wanted to quit. But at the end of the day, wrestling is my favorite sport in the world. I have made countless sacrifices and commitments to become the best in the world. Anyone who doesn't respect my decision to pursue wrestling and stay out of the cage, fine, I can live with that. I get to wake up every morning and do what I love, and be pretty darn good at it. I don't have anything to prove to anyone by stepping in the cage. If people still need to see me fight to prove how tough or athletic I am, I think they will always be doubtful of my ability, no matter what I accomplish.
I love MMA. It has given former wrestlers a great outlet to showcase their skills on a large stage. I've decided it's just not for me. Now if it's ok with everyone, I'm gonna wrestle a little while longer.